Recently there was a piece in the NYTimes (The Stories That Bind Us), about the importance of families having a ‘narrative’; not just any narrative, but a narrative of resilience. To us narratologists, this is not new news. For decades I worked with young people, (through my former non-profit, Find Your Voice) to provide them with an outlet for articulating and revising their narratives, for this very reason. As humans, we are story-telling creatures. While current meditation practices advise us to simply breathe and ‘let go of the stories’ in our minds, in truth, we are not separable from our stories. Conversely, we are also not stuck with our negative narratives. We get into trouble is when we continually re-tell ourselves the same negative stories about ourselves, our families, or the world. What turns a negative story into a positive one, is not the changing of any of the facts of history, but the way in which we acknowledge and hold these facts, and the ways in which we envision and then create the potential future that can grow out of them.
It is the paradigm shift that was codified by Narrative Therapy founders Michael White and David Epston, and the simple act of dramaturgy that is effected every time a good editor sits with a writer, playwright or filmmaker and asks: what is the story here? Where are the patterns, the inconsistencies, the resolutions? How can we tell it, be affirmed in it, and also re-vise it...go beyond it? In my practice as a Narrative Coach, I do just that with client stories. My practice is dedicated to the facilitation of this healthy revision, whether in individual or group sessions, at clinics, schools, offices or families. We are dedicated to the belief that we have lived our stories, but we are also more than our stories...before we can know what we want, and how to achieve it, we must know who we’ve been.